Digital Services

GW Libraries’ Digital Services Unit, located within the Special Collections Research Center, builds and enhances the Libraries’ rare and unique digital collections. Digital Services staff have responsibility for digitization, web archiving, and digital stewardship.


The digitization program digitizes and provides free, public, online access to rare and unique materials in the Libraries’ collections. Materials are made as openly available as possible online, in order to promote global access to the Libraries’ rich collection of archival material in the areas of labor, education, Washingtoniana, Judaica and Hebraica, and GW history.

Selection for digitization follow Digitization: Criteria for Selection. Digitized materials are intended to be retained by the library long-term, and are managed through the GW Libraries’ Digital Stewardship Program, alongside other unique, rare, and university-related digital assets preserved by the Libraries.

The Digitization Unit, together with several areas of GWLAI, works to find more engaging, creative means of disseminating digitized content online. This includes Open Data initiatives and promotion of computational use of digital collections.

The Digitization Unit also fulfills patron’s high-resolution copy requests of materials in the Special Collections Research Center. The Unit is not able to fulfill requests to copy/digitize materials that patrons bring in from outside of Special Collections.

Currently, digitized materials from the Libraries’ collections can be found in a few places:

Web Archiving

The Web Archiving Program collects web-based materials for long-term preservation by the Libraries, including GW websites, student life websites, and web content that fits within the Libraries’ areas of specialized collecting. Content is made available online through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and Archive-It website.

Digital Stewardship

The Digital Stewardship Program is a Libraries-wide initiative that provides long-term stewardship of globally-unique and institutionally-created digital materials including: student and faculty scholarly products, university records of enduring value, and specialized cultural heritage collections. These materials represent a small but vital portion of the digital content that flows through the Libraries. GW Libraries has committed to being the global steward of these materials, ensuring that this digital content has enduring availability over the long-term. This commitment involves strategic resource planning that balance the benefits of providing engaging, rich access for today’s users with key investments ensuring that content is available and accessible to future users.